George Phillies responds to Chris Barber’s letter

Originally posted at Gold America Group:

Of course, last minute attack letters are the stuff of politics. You learn to live with them. And now I have received mine. (Actually, I did not receive mine. I have not received a copy.) Remember, there will always be reasons for not surfacing the attack until the last minute, and most of those reasons are subject to question. Recall the four-page attack on Mary Ruwart, last convention, that was mailed so late that many of us got it only when we came home.

Recently, a peculiar list of Libertarians received a letter allegedly from Chris Barber of Decatur, Georgia. Supposedly the letter went out to 1700 people.

To give credit where credit is due, Barber or whoever did spell my name right.

Whoever gave him his other facts was so deficient in truthiness that it’s hard to know where to start. Mind you, I do not blame Barber, if that’s who it was, for being taken in. If he had contacted me, I might have set him straight.

Where do we start? Why don’t we start here: In 2008, the Barr campaign claimed to have received $10,000 from the LNC. As of this writing, it is still claiming that in its campaign filings. The LNC did not reveal having given Barr $10,000 in its transfers, and our Party Treasurer denies that Barr 2008 got the money. Was the money handed over or not? The LNC had not approved the transfer.

A reasonable person could have asked the Barr 2008 Treasurer if the $10,000 statement was right. After all, it could have been a computer glitch. An LNC member did. David Chastain specified to her how the money was sent. “wire transfer”, he said. That’s pretty definitive. Chastain added “Please contact Robert Kraus at LNC for the documentation.” That’s even more definitive. The LNC member was told how the money was sent, and who in the Watergate had the details. The full correspondence is below. I had also contacted Chastain with the same question.

As those of you who have done FEC filings know, you can’t make your FEC books and your bank statements match, once you have fixed the details like cash on hand, unless they agree. If that $10,000 had not been received, at some point the Barr 2008 bank account ought to have come up short. [There are some legitimate dodges involving gifts in kind, but gifts in kind create tagged matching disbursements not appearing in the filings.] Double-path book-keeping provide a powerful error-checking scheme that your filings are accurate. A reasonable person should view this as a strong check on the close accuracy of FEC reports.

So I did speak to LNC friends, and I had contacted the Barr 2008 campaign directly. There were contradictions in their claims. In particular, the LNC had not approved any money transfer. The direct options for investigation were exhausted. However, a reasonable inference was that the money had transferred — the Barr Treasurer had specified how.

That was our party’s money out the door, if it had been transferred, based on available evidence, and I had exhausted my internal investigations. Of course, you should never underestimate the power of error. As a Libertarian, I despise theft and fraud. I could have ignored it. It was only $10,000. That’s only 400 member-years of dues, or ten life memberships done forever.

However, I don’t see any reason to leave a land mine for the next LNC, especially when I might be on it.

So I filed a complaint. I stayed as you can read with the direct facts that could be proven from the FEC filings, omitting hearsay or speculation. And then I did not say a word. If you talk to people, the word gets out, and the innocent deserve to have the issues resolved in private.

So where do the errors start? Let’s start here.

Mr. Barber makes a series of statements about Rachel Hawkridge and information given to her. His description of the information, which he could not have known directly, is inaccurate.

What does Barber claim?

#1) Barber claims Hawkridge demanded and received LNC Bank statements. Hawkridge assures that she asked for the statements, and Redpath refused to supply them. The LNC did receive six pages of computer printout covering a few days of transactions, but not the statements. I have since had direct physical confirmation of this.

#2) Barber claims Hawkridge was presented a letter for public dissemination. Hawkridge assures me that she was presented with a letter to be kept confidential.

#3) Barber claims the letter from the auditors said they found no errors in the party’s FEC filings. Really? Were there errors? You can find the truth at… The LNC had to refile, because it had incorrectly claimed to have received $10,000 coming from the Barr Presidential Committee which it had not received from them. That was a computer-person interface error, very easy to understand if you have used the software.

Barber complains that I made my complaint after his evidence was presented. He skips over the detail that the evidence he claims was presented was sent in confidence to the LNC, so I would largely not have seen it. In fact, if you read my complaint, you see I specify that there was an executive session, and I did not see what happened there.

So how did you know about what happened in executive session, Chris? Your friend on the LNC will have the rock-solid defense that he did not break Executive Session confidence, because he was lying to you about what happened there. I’m sorry you were taken in. You deserve better.

Barber complains about the first sentence of my letter. Folks, that sentence is specified in the FEC regulations. If there were a printed form, it would be printed on it. You don’t get a choice on what that sentence says.

Barber complains that if the FEC had determined that the money had been lifted improperly from our treasury, the guilty party might have gone to jail. I’m sorry, but up here ‘theft’ and ‘fraud’ are not libertarian virtues.

Finally, he delivers a magnificent rant. It is absolutely worth reading for the style, if not the content. The essence of the rant is that when there is significant evidence that our party has been relieved of large sums of money we should close our eyes to it. Preventing theft and fraud is ‘unlibertarian’. Okay, I won’t argue, because there is no position on which we libertarians do not disagree with each other, except the spelling of our party’s name.

I say that it is appropriate to pursue the matter first privately, which I and others did, but when the evidence is sufficient solid, and the stone wall will not move, well, that’s why we have law enforcement authorities. Oh, yes, I did bite my tongue, telling no one about this; that’s the courtesy you owe to innocent people.

Those of you familiar with our party’s history will realize that there is ample precedent for this sort of hanky-panky having occurred. The Barr campaign claims to the FEC that it did not occur, that they made a data entry error leading to an incorrect contribution report.

George Phillies

The full Chastain Correspondence, as supplied me by Rachel Hawkridge:

LNC member Rachel Hawkridge contacted the Barr 2008 Treasurer, David Chastain. She asked

From: Rachel H. for LPWA Communications
Date: Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 1:11 PM
Subject: Would you please?

Dear Mr. Chastain –

I would like to get a copy of the check from the Libertarian National Committee that you (Barr08) reported to have received in Aug ’08 FEC filings. I believe that the exact date was 23 July 2008.

We’re having a dispute, and it’s an internal issue which has nothing to do with you. I would appreciate your help very much.

Thanks and have a gentle day . . . :o)

Act In Liberty,

Rachel Hawkridge
Chair, Libertarian Party of Washington
Libertarian National Committee
Region 7 Representative

He answered first

From: David F. Chastain
Date: Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 6:50 PM
Subject: Re: Would you please?
To: “Rachel H. for LPWA Communications”

Hi Rachel,

I am asking the folks who handle our books to look into it. Please bear with me.

David Chastain

and then

From: David F. Chastain
Date: Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 3:44 AM
Subject: Re: Would you please?
To: “Rachel H. for LPWA Communications”
I am told your reference goes back to a wire transfer. Please contact Robert Kraus at LNC for the documentation.

That seemingly settled whether the Barr campaign thought on July 9 that they had received a transfer. Their Treasurer had the books checked, and he stated how the money was received. They did not at any later date make a correction.

For the original coverage of Chris Barber’s letter, including a copy thereof, see here. See also reactions from Brad Ploeger and Rachel Hawkridge.

18 thoughts on “George Phillies responds to Chris Barber’s letter

  1. paulie Post author

    If anyone is wondering, an anonymous source in LPGa tells me Mr. Barber is supporting Wayne Root for Chair.

  2. Root Plays to Win

    Interesting, but not surprising. The Root camp plays to win, principles and fair play be damned.

    Hasn’t Root said that winning is everything, or something along those lines?

  3. Daniel N. Adams


    You really didn’t need to use your “anonymous source”, I bet Chris would have told you himself who he’s supporting if you had just asked him.

    In GA we don’t make everything out to be a “conspiracy” because we trust that we all conspire for the same goal and can be open about our differences in tactics and opinions, without being destructive to the party and fellow freedom fighters (and if necessary, out those that would do or have attempted to do either harm or put in harms way). And in the end maintain respect for everyone’s efforts. Many of the states have started to operate similarly… and their successes have increased.

    National would do well to rid themselves of the opposite type of unproductive behavior and approach to internal affairs perpetuating it’s ineffectiveness to become a really huge asset and be in a position to better assist the states and their efforts. It seems to me if they weren’t spending so much of their limited resources trying to protect themselves from some of our own… real or imagined… then they could be the entity we always wanted… and need.

  4. Robert Capozzi

    imagine if we had 100 George Phillies in the LP, all combing through FEC filings in search of something that didn’t smell right. Every time the LNC didn’t address the 100 Phillies’s accusations, the 100 Phillies would file 100 FEC complaints.

    Sounds like chaos.

    If the $10K went to a Cayman Island account, this story would be somewhat coherent.

  5. paulie Post author

    You really didn’t need to use your “anonymous source”, I bet Chris would have told you himself who he’s supporting if you had just asked him.

    I didn’t really feel it was worth the trouble. I only mentioned it because my source brought it up on his or her own in the course of conversation.

    I don’t see it as any type of conspiracy, and I generally agree with you. Mr. Barber is well within his rights to support Wayne and to share his concerns about George. I am not implying any kind of coordination with Wayne on this.

    On the other hand, given that his letter discussed matters that were dealt with in LNC executive session, and Mr. Barber is not on the LNC, there had to have been some degree of coordination with at least one LNC member.

  6. volvoice

    …..You really didn’t need to use your “anonymous source”, I bet Chris would have told you himself who he’s supporting if you had just asked him…..

    I feel pretty sure a lot of people are asking him where got his mailing list from. I haven’t seen an answer yet. Are Alicia and Aaron abusing their positions within the LP in order to further their agenda?

    …..National would do well to rid themselves of the opposite type of unproductive behavior….

    I agree and if Aaron or Alicia are a part of this then we must all conclude that this is unproductive behavior.

  7. Denver Delegate

    I wonder if the membership wants two more years of the Starr camarilla’s skullduggery?

    Starr, Mattson, Karlan, Carling et al have in essence dared their detractors to involve government agencies to call them on their unseemly behavior — waiting to declare violations of the LNC’s Policy Manual, Robert’s Rules of Order, and and the designation of “un-libertarian” for those who don’t want to play their rigged game.

    My hope is that the delegates assembled in St Louis will not give the Starr cabal — which includes Wayne Allyn Root — another chance.

  8. Carolyn Marbry

    Denver @8: Couldn’t have said it better myself. 🙂 Given the emails and statements by Hawkridge and Phillies, I ask again, as I did in the Ploeger thread, why isn’t anyone asking the LNC and specifically the treasurer why they weren’t cooperative and even grateful when a party member brought up what was potentially a dangerous error?

  9. Robert Capozzi

    cm, this is a great question, actually, but it’s beside the point. Such misdirection will not work here.

    Fiduciary matters sometimes require some level of non-disclosure. Staff and the LNC should not be expected to open the books up and be walked through all the accounts every time any member asks for financial reporting. That would be chaos and highly dysfunctional.

    If a cabal is stonewalling or using parliamentary maneuvering to advance an agenda, those who oppose that cabal should make that case to the members.

    Narcing to the Feds….not so much.

  10. LibertarianGirl

    if a mistake occurred and there are two parties that could have been responsible i.e the Barr campaign or the LNC id have went with the Barr campaign.

    i do not agree with Phillies criminal complaint , but Barber including the names of the other new path candidates in the hit piece is just as bad. none of them have done anything wrong and it was a mean spirited attempt to taint their rep with what some may consider Georges mistakes.

    I dont know Mr Barber , but shame on him , and George too .

    I guess the gloves are off:)

  11. Auguste Maquet

    I believe we are ignoring the real issue. The doctor has, once again, let his bruised ego lead him into questionable action. Does anyone who knows him truly doubt his capacity for spite, for churlishness, for petulance, for a fragile and overinflated ego? Then it should hardly come as a surprise that hot on the tail of his magnificent failure to garner a nomination for president that he was seeking to discredit the victor.

    So often in morality we must not only consider the deed itself, but the motivations therefore, and the doctor has a reputation for speaking noble words with poisonous intent. Forgetting for a moment any argument as to the morality of the doctor’s action, we must question his reason for pursuing his action in the first place, and I contend that righteousness was in all reality the last thing on his mind, save for use as a given excuse for the deed. Is the good of the Party truly his goal? In light of such an event, which so readily casts aspersions on his motives for the office he so eagerly and futilely seeks – and an examination of his past campaigns will readily show it to indeed be futile – perhaps the most noble thing to do would be to step down and thus clear both his name and the names of those with whom he runs? For on the other side of the coin, it appears to me obvious that the intent of Mr. Barber was not to sully the doctors name, but to sully the rest of the slate. Why else, indeed, would he so readily list them by name? Why else would he demand that the delegates call upon the slate to denounce the actions of Dr. Phillies? There are no demands at all made of the doctor himself, but rather, of those about him who, without such a scandal, stand a very real chance at victory in St. Louis.

    Why, indeed, when if he truly believes the doctor is in sooth guilty of initiating force, he could just as readily name as his ransom a judicial committee inquiry, an inquiry that would leave clean the names of the slate while simultaneously jeopardizing not only the doctor’s bid for Chair, but his very membership, as would be true justice?

    These are very telling signs. Also among them are the doctors failure thus far to exonerate his allies: Of the demands and questions raised by Mr. Barber, one stands out as truly worthy: Did his allies know about this before the news broke? Are they innocent of whatever taint this claim carries? If innocence is theirs, then the doctors failure to make it readily apparent betrays a fear that to do so would cast him away, as an anchor cut from a ship in a storm. In such a case, I would exhort the NewPath slate to cast him off as just such a dangerous weight, and I would encourage the delegation to consider the remainder of the slate for their own virtues, and not to let this ugly incident color their decision.

    And if it be so that they knew of this act beforehand, then it becomes a most important testimony to the values and character of those who would ally with the doctor: Why and how can they condone or excuse it? The answers will be inevitably enlightening, and there is even a small chance that that light may even banish shadows to finally illuminate true right and wrongdoing.

    Verily, I echo the sentiment of LibertarianGirl @11, if for my own reasons:

    Shame on Mr. Barber, and shame on George, too.

  12. Carolyn Marbry

    Maquet @ 12: Those on the New Path slate did NOT know this action was pending, much less that Phillies filed the complaint. The information (if one may call it that) in the Barber letter took us as much by surprise as anyone. For what it’s worth.

    Not to be accused of spam, here, but I once again repeat the question that I’ve asked elsewhere, and that is, why isn’t anyone asking the LNC, specifically Mr. Starr, why he didn’t provide an answer to Dr. Phillies upon his first mention of what appeared to be a serious discrepancy in the books, even if that answer was, “Hmm, that’s odd, let me look into that and get back to you” followed up with a letter thanking him and letting him know the error was fixed? Would that have been so hard?

    In another thread, someone suggested that Phillies should have brought the entire membership to bear to put pressure on the LNC, and that he should have threatened the LNC with legal action from the FEC (instead of filing the complaint). Never mind that getting the information out to the membership would have made it public and put the party in potential legal danger as well, and never mind that threats and blackmail are, at least in my book, an initiation of force… All of this misses the point.

    Why should ANY member of the party who brings something this dangerous to the attention of the LNC have to mention it, pester the LNC about it repeatedly, publicize it such that the membership should put pressure on the LNC to deal with it, threaten the LNC with legal action that could put the party and specifically the treasurers of both the party and the Presidential candidate’s campaign in personal legal danger, and only THEN expect a thoughtful response to his concerns? Where does that approach a reasonable way to run the business of the party?

    This misdirection is well played, a nice sleight of hand to focus attention on Phillies’ controversial choice to take it to the FEC when he felt he had no other option and draw your attention away from what looks like almost malicious unresponsiveness from YOUR LNC to a fellow party member who showed them a potential legal landmine they needed to avoid.

  13. Gene Berkman

    OK, so Dr Phillies was worried that the LNC might have an accounting issue that would open it up to legal liability. His solution? Snitch to the government.

    Dr Phillies was worried about $10,000 of members dues “out the door.” Not really out the door, but supplied to a candidate nominated by The Libertarian Party. His solution? Open the LNC up to legal intervention that could have cost tens of thousands of dollars.

    If this approach is sympomatic of The New Path for the LP, then candidates on the New Path slate need to make clear – will they consider making complaints to the FEC if they don’t get their way at an LNC meeting? Do they defend what Dr Phillies did in this case?

  14. Gene Berkman

    Did Dr Phillies contact the Judicial Committee of the Libertarian Party, to notify them that money may have been transferred without a vote of the LNC, before he went to the Federal Government?

  15. Michael Seebeck

    The JudComm has no jurisdiction in the issue, see Article 9, section 2-d, which gives it jurisdiction over LNC decisions, not non-decisions. It helps if you read the Bylaws.

    Had the Treasurer, Chair, and Mr. Kraus simply answered the question in the first place, a legitimate one raised by a member in good standing, then none of this would have mattered. But they chose to make this a mess and are now blaming Phillies for trying to get them to do their jobs right, and you seem to be agreeing with them because you don’t really understand FEC procedure. Then you go and paint the entire New Path slate with the brush that they would act the same way without a scintilla of evidence to back it up. Epic fail, there.

    And Gene, why aren’t you working the Prop 14 phone bank, anyway?

  16. Gene Berkman

    I didn’t make a claim about how the New Path slate would act – I asked a question.

    As for what I do with my time – I am working at the only libertarian bookshop in southern California. I will still sell books promoting freedom, capitalism and peace regardless of the political environment.

  17. Rorschach

    “As for what I do with my time – I hide in a hole and preach to the choir, because going out and spreading the word to people who aren’t already inclined in Libertarian directions is work. Also, I charge sales tax, because that’s how committed to the movement that I am: for all my tough talk of “regardless of the political environment,” I’m really not willing to take a meaningful stand on anything. In the end, I think the most valuable thing I really contribute to the movement is showing the Riverside LP that they can get along just fine without me.”

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